Some commentary on the Eastertide prayers

The opening responses are intended to encourage us to get in touch with the joy of the raising of Jesus from the dead.

Alleluia, Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Our hopes are raised
Life emerges from death
Right is wrested from wrong
The uprising of Love has begun!

The first two lines are from the regular Easter greetings of many churches. The next four lines are my own compositions which were strongly ‘driven’ by the desire to express something of the significance and joy of Easter in less conventionally religious terms by using phrases with a more ordinary work-a-day life  provenance. So we talk in everyday life about raising hopes, but here ‘raised’ also has a more literal resonance. The term ’emerge’ has gained currency from science and business and here is intended to evoke something of the meaning of scientific discovery, perhaps the new version of order-from-chaos imagery which is part of the Christian way of talking and thinking about the Resurrection. The penultimate line tries to gesture towards something of the wider meaning of resurrection -and the alliteration was a happy discovery which was reinforced by the choice of the word ‘wrested’ as verb. ‘Uprising’ is chosen to suggest both ‘raising’ from death and also an insurgency as Christians love the world to death -and beyond empowered by the same power which raised Jesus from death.

The next prayer implicitly uses the story of the walk to Emmaus.

Draw alongside us, Lord Jesus,
Open up the scriptures to us by your Spirit,
so our hearts might be lit with fresh understanding
and fired up by your presence

This is one of the few prayers in this collection that addresses Jesus directly. Since the Lord’s Prayer addresses the Father, that is the norm for these prayers. However, in this case, since it is attempting to pray something of the Emmaus road scene from the end of Luke’s gospel, it is more natural to stick with that and address the petition to Jesus directly.

The use of  ‘lit’ and ‘fired up’ derive from the ‘hearts burning within us’ description of those disciples’ experience. ‘Fired up’ plays on the contemporary idiom for being excited and enthused while alluding to the ‘burning hearts’. The phrase ‘by your Spirit’ makes explicit what the story does not state: that the experience of ‘getting it’ is something that is the work of the Holy Spirit -both then and now.

One of the things I attempted to do in many of the offices was to have a section at the end of the readings corresponding to the creed in a number of orders of morning and evening prayer. I also felt that using materials from the gospels where there were responses to Jesus would be a good basis for this. The whole idea was to take the receiving of the words of scripture as building up our faith and an encounter with Christ, in a sense which called on us to respond with faith.

After the readings we have a simple cue and response phrase.

Here ends the reading.
Here begins its outworking.

It aims simply to encourage us not simply to read and that be it, but to recognise that the words we have heard are meant to become part of our lives; the message works out into our lives. It is an encouragement to reflect in such a way that we change, be it only a little bit.

So, in that vein, -of seeing the message take root in our lives and being encouraged to respond- in this office we have this:

Jesus said: ‘Do not doubt but trust.’ With Thomas we respond,
‘My Lord and my God!’ 
Let us hear for ourselves what Jesus replied,
‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to trust.’

We have these words so that we may come to believe and trust:
Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God,
we have life in his name. 
[ based on John 20:19ff ]

The bulk of the changes from the original passages are, of course, to enable it to be used as being addressed and addressing prayerfully rather than ‘observed’ as from a third party perspective. So ‘Let us hear for ourselves’ is an invitation for us to take the words as if addressed to us -which is not far from the writer’s stated intent for the whole of the gospel. The translation of the line after that has been tweaked: most translations have ‘come to believe’ but it is possible and arguably desirable to recall that the word connotes trusting belief rather than simple intellectual assent, similarly at the end of the next line where both English words have been used.

Moving into the ‘hallowed be your name” section, we have:

We set God always before us:
who is at our right hand; we shall not fall.
Our hearts are glad
and our spirits rejoice;
Our flesh shall also rest secure.
For you will not abandon our souls to Death,
nor let your faithful know the Pit.
You will show us the path of life;
in your presence is the fullness of joy
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore
[ From Psalm 16 ]

These words from Psalm 16 enable us, I hope, to both reflect on and to celebrate what is achieved in Jesus’ raising from the dead. The sense of a decisive turn of events for good which gives us confidence in the face of death (and note the choice to capitalise Death in the text). The final four lines are traditional lines for the funeral service and again reinforce the sense of joyful hope worth celebrating -something indeed to hallow God’s name for. And there is a pause recommended at this point to enable us as users of these words to get in touch with and encourage within ourselves the Spirit-borne response of appreciative expectation. After which we get to …

O God, roll away the stone from our hearts, and brighten our imaginations with the dayspring of new life. In Christ you spoke into the unmaking void of death,raising your Life from death and enfolding us in that victory.
God of new creation:
Hallowed be your name

The first couple of clauses are actually petitionary but they are at the service of asking for help to appreciate what God has done. The imagery of rolling the stone away is, of course, from the resurrection story and the implied imagery of dawn also references that. The word ‘dayspring’ means dawn but is an archaism which nevertheless has a poetry to it which makes it worth keeping, and it echoes its use in the Benedictus and hymnody. It is hoped that the wording of these more petitionary phrases would inspire a praise-ful mood for the section.

The next sentence uses imagery of creation to think about death and resurrection -God speaking into void comes from Genesis 1:2. And the last clause tries to get us to think about our own inclusion in the resurrection -we participate in what God has done in Christ.

Next up are the petitionary prayers corresponding to ‘Your kingdom come ..’. In this case they are arranged to invite us to think about what we are concerned about with a view to considering and holding them before God with an intention to discern what or how God’s will might be in those situations. We are invited into that with the phrase,

We ask for God’s eternal-life-giving to be known in our world, saying:
Living God:
glorify your name

The response -which is used several times subsequently, comes from a prayer in the Church of England book of additional prayers called ‘Patterns for Worship’. You can see the ‘original’ set of prayers as section F71 on the webpage for ”new Patterns of Worship’. You’ll notice if you compare, some differences. ‘Faithful God’ has become ‘Living God’ because in these prayers the background is resurrection and new life which rests in God’s ever-living. ‘Glorify your name’ reminds us that in what happens we are wanting God’s awesome loveliness to be exposed for what it is which will bring a response which glorifies God. In practice, I think, this amounts to the same sort of outcomes as ‘your will be done’ hence its use at this point.

The call and response follows into the next section, daily bread, where the introductory phrase in a sense acts as a link. We are still asking God, but, as the first phrase here makes clear, the focus turns to our own needs.

In our needs and weakness in our provision and supply;
Living God:
glorify your name.

Then there’s encouragement to recognise before God what we need, and this is placed in the context of our life in Christ. In a sense, the phrase steers us not to asking for any old thing that we think we’d like, but to consider our needs and wants in the bigger context of a life lived with and for ‘God’s kingdom and righteousness’.

We consider what we need to continue living in Christ
The risen Jesus makes common table with us.
As we make common cause with Christ:
Give us each day our daily bread.

The image of Jesus making common table is inspired, again, by the Emmaus road encounter with the risen Christ: it was at table, breaking bread, that he was finally recognised and we recall that this recognition is borne of the many other times Jesus broke bread with his disciples and indeed enquirers and even hostile questioners. The image also calls us to mind the times when we, remembering Jesus gathering people at table, gather round the table for communion: a common table. And the word ‘common’ is then picked up in the next line using the ‘secular’ phrase “common cause” to name that idea of us living our lives within and for the reign of God and God’s values. And to round off, the phrase from the Lord’s prayer itself (Lukan version).

The next section takes us into consideration of our wrong-doing.

Full-lively God, we come to you in sorrow for our sins, and confess to you our weaknesses and unbelief.
Recollection of what we need to confess.

‘Full-lively God’ is an unusual phrase. The aim was to capture something of the idea that God is abundant life itself. The phrase comes over as having a slightly Tudor feel which makes it arresting and memorable, perhaps. It’s unusual but not incomprehensible. The ‘weakness and unbelief’ phrase is drawn from liturgies of the Church of England. Then we come to the first part of the actual confession of sin.

We have fallen back into the law of sin and death, and failed to live the new life of the risen Christ.
Merciful God, forgive us.
And restore us to life.

‘Law of sin and death’ is a phrase from Romans, taken here to be a way of phrasing the ‘ways of the world’, a set of assumptions and habits of thought and action that are self-reinforcing and perpetuate but do not serve God’s agenda or desires for a world characterised by love, joy and peace. The new life is characterised by those things: that is what the risen Christ stands for. We want God to change our status and re-knit us to life in all its fullness. The Lord’s prayer reminds us that part of the deal of living forgiven is living forgiving. In the following phrase we continue with the life/death reflection, seeing unforgiveness through that motif and using the image of the tomb to characterise it.

We have laid others in the tomb of our unforgiveness,
enshrouding them in our contempt and withholding the word of life.
Forgive us, Merciful God
And restore us to life-giving.

The reprise of restore us to life, is modified to help us to recall that forgiving is part of giving life in all its fullness; playing our part in creating and maintaining a gracious community of ‘full-lively’ people. This section rounds off with the following.

Let us attend; Christ breathes upon us the peace and forgiveness of God.
A moment for quiet reflection on our forgiveness.
Who will rescue us from this body of death?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

The pause to ‘take in’ God’s forgiveness is important. I very much believe that written and pre-formed prayers can and do ‘work’ for us because they call us to pay attention to true things that the Holy Spirit is constantly striving in our spirits to achieve. In this case, the Spirit is fanning an appreciation of being forgiving into the heart of who we are and a prayer like this tries to encourage us to co-operate and be attentive to it.

The thanks giving phrases are drawn from 1 Corinthians 15: 57 part of Paul’s reflection on the significance of the Resurrection. Having paused to be thankful for our forgiveness, we then move into the fifth section of the Lord’s prayer looking forward with a view to following Christ into it and being wary of our own weaknesses (which confession of sin may well have alerted us to). That is the kind of agenda informing the introduction to the next section.

As we seek to forge a new future living the life of Christ let us pause before the likely events and involvements and the unpredictable happenings that face us.

A collect prayer may be said.
In our laughter, and tears, in our fear and our hope;
Living God:
Glorify your name.

The situation of someone using these words consciously-before God is conceived as taking a few moments to consider their diary and plans for the day and to think about the challenges that could arise from them. And also to recognise that life is rarely fully predictable and perhaps we should consider how we do when faced with changes and chances of this fleeting world.

And at the end of that bit we see reprised the call and response from earlier. Part of the point of having it again here (apart from it being an appropriate thing to say in this context) is also to recall to us that there is a wholeness to the Lord’s prayer; it isn’t five prayers lumped together but the parts reflect and depend on one another. The line before the call and response is also written in the style of those earlier petitions. In a sense it is one of those petitions but placed here because of its topic -which fits better here.

The next bit in a sense moves us from recognising what the coming hours might hold to actually moving into that future and it does it by reminding us that we don’t go alone.

Jesus comes to us and says,
‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’
He breathes on us and says; ‘Receive the Holy Spirit….
Pause to reflect on Christ’s risen presence and call before we return to the rest of our lives.

Again the story behind the choice of words is one of the resurrection appearances where Jesus has particularly apposite words for us. This little section encourages to recognise that the resources of the Holy Spirit are shared with us to live Godly. These words are to provoke us into awareness of that.

The next and final phrases are a mash-up of a traditional closing response phrase and a biblical quote. They intersect in the second line, “Thanks be to God”, which is the final line of a closing phrase but the first line of a quote from 1 Corinthians 15:57.

Let us bless the Lord:
Thanks be to God
Who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.



Thy Kingdom Come -short form

This version of the fuller ‘Thy Kingdom Come‘ office can be prayed in around 5 minutes or a bit more depending on how much time you take bringing your own thoughts, reflections and how big the pauses and readings you use are. It could be suitable as a midday office amid work. It is about a third of the length of its parent form, counted by words.

Together with all in Christ, we wait
Come Holy Spirit; soak into our deepest being
We pray together with all your people
Come Holy Spirit; breeze through our staleness
We will hear the scriptures together
Come Holy Spirit; fire up our imaginations for good

         Psalm and readings.

Together we say:
We will receive power
when the Holy Spirit comes upon us;
And we will be Jesus’ witnesses
to the ends of the earth

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
You have blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ
And now we give you thanks because in Christ you embed us in your mission, and you equip us by the Holy Spirit.
Hallowed be your name!

As the Good News is shared, let it soften hearts and change minds.
Your Spirit is working:
Your Kingdom come.

Draw those who have newly heard Christ’s call, to heed their vocation and to be nurtured and baptised
Your Spirit is working:
Your Kingdom come.
Equip us to work with you,
enthuse us to hold our course true.
Send forth your Spirit:
And renew the face of our lives.

We recognise we’ve quenched your Spirit and resisted sharing your good news

Breathe upon us the breath of life:
And renew the face of our lives.
Make our hearts clean, O God
And re-form a right spirit within us.
Let us attend; Christ breathes upon us the peace and forgiveness of God.

God invites us into his work in creation and redemption, let us pray not to miss our path.

Who is it that we seek?
We seek God: Sender, Sent and Sending.
Since we live by the Spirit,
let us keep in step with the Spirit.

This order is a shortened form of the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ office.

Commentary: Lent

The order for Lent has a number of pre-loved sources, mostly the have been edited and repurposed. There are also a number of original elements -though of course ‘original’ can often owe a huge debt of gratitude to something else. What follows gives some backstory and framing which may interest and help some users.

It’s worth recalling that the forms of these daily offices tries to do two things. One is to offer a prayerful context for the reading of scripture which reflects the season -in this case, Lent. The second is to give a form of prayer using the structure of the Lord’s prayer and, here, to do so with a seasonal, Lenten, twist. So these comments will simply go through the order and offer background and thoughts about the compiling and praying of the words.

The first sentence borrows from the Ash Wednesday service.

Remembering we are dust and to dust we shall return, we turn from our waywardness to cultivate Christwardness.

Those on Ash Wednesday who have ash placed on their foreheads are told “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return…” it seems fitting during Lent to recall this defining liturgical moment from the start of the season, reminding us of the frailty and (without God) the futility of human be-ing. The second sentence echoes but paraphrases the next part of the Ashing phrase which says, “Turn from you sin and follow Christ” or similar words (different traditions have it slightly differently). One of the things I have tried to do in editing and writing prayers for BOCP is to move away on occasion from normal church liturgical language to help us to see/hear afresh what it is we are saying. So here: ‘waywardness’ deputises for ‘sin’ and at the same time gestures towards the imagery of the wilderness which features in early Lenten lectionary readings. To be wayward is to have lost the path and suggests having wandered off potentially into a wilderness. The phrase also implicitly invites us to consider our life as being lived in a wilderness -with its temptations and the potential to see it as empty of meaning and haunted by forces uncaring of human life.

And then having a word which ends in ‘-ness’, and wishing to further reflect on ‘sin’ by offering an implied opposite, the word ‘Christwardness’ is born. It has behind it John 16:8-9

And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement: about sin, because they do not believe in me 

Which seems to imply that a defining characteristic of Sin is not believing in Christ, that is not orienting our lives towards Jesus and the teaching Christ brings.

What is it that we seek?
We seek God’s way in the wilderness.
Let’s seek with all our deciding
Amen. God be our wisdom.
Let’s seek with all our affections
Amen. God be our centre
Let’s seek with all our attitudes
Amen. God be our vision.
Let’s seek with all our resources
Amen. God be our mainstay.

This traces back to one of the opening prayers in the Northumbria Community’s daily office of morning prayer. There the first question is whom do we seek and the following responses are questions with an implied answer developed into a recognition of our weakness in the face of our call to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength. I found the use of the heart-soul-mind-strength theme to be useful but felt that the questions would be better as a mutual exhortation to seek. It then seemed that the song ‘Be thou my vision’ suggested a way of counterpointing those aspects of seeking with characteristics of God might make a satisfying prayer.

Then, after some time of using the form amended in that way, it started to seem that what I knew about the way that ancients would use body parts to talk about aspects of our inner lives was not always the way we understand them. So I substituted with words we might otherwise use; deciding, affections etc.

Then there follows an exhortation to prepare us directly to listen and attend to the reading or readings.

Tested and tempted in the desert, scripture revealed and steered Jesus’ resistance and direction. May we learn and inwardly digest the Wisdom of God we hear.
Let us attend!

The word underlying ‘tempted’ in the stories of Jesus being led into the wilderness, also could be translated ‘tested’ and so using both words seemed a fair thing to do in this context. The basic idea is that in Lent we often start by looking at Jesus’ wilderness experience and temptations and in the stories we have, at the heart of resisting the false paths offered is scripture which clearly helped him both to understand the positive direction he was to take and to grasp the dangers in the wrong paths that opened up to him. This knowing practical right from wrong in terms of paths open to us is part of what scripture usually means by ‘wisdom’. The phrase ‘learn and inwardly digest’ comes from a collect in the Book of Common Prayer which relates to how we approach scripture and seems in this case to characterise well the way that Jesus had evidently internalised chapters 6 and 8 of Deuteronomy.

“Let us attend” comes from Orthodox liturgies and is a way to call people to attention to hear readings from Scripture. The whole phrase is “Wisdom, let us attend!” but since the previous part of the phrase already had ‘wisdom’ in it, it seemed that this part of the announcement had, in effect, already been made.

After the readings and reflection on them we round off the scripture-focused section of the prayer form with this:

Jesus call us to faith in Him.
….pause for reflection
Lord, we believe,
help us in our unbelief.

One of the structuring principles for many of these offices is to have a time after reflecting on the scriptures when we renew our commitment to living out what we learn and sense God leading us into by them. Many of these are taken from the Gospels and borrow from passages where people are responding to Jesus. In this case it is a declaration of faith but charmingly honest to which Jesus then responds positively. Those words to Jesus in Mark 9 have been repurposed to enable us to use them in Lent, the tentativeness of faith they exhibit seems the right sort of ‘note’ to sound for Lent with its attention to our weakness and frailty.

In these offices, a canticle is used to make a transition from a focus on scripture to prayer using the Lord’s prayer as its structuring principle. The praise of God in the canticles acts as a primer for the first phase of the Lord’s prayer pattern. This version of the Song of Christ’s Glory from Philippians 2 has been tweaked . The choice of this canticle for Lent is to do with the motif of ‘humbling himself’.

We will give God thanks:
You are our help and our God.
You are gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast faithful love. You seek us out in the darkness of our sin, and exchange beauty of reconciliation for the ashes of our rebellion.
…other appreciations of God may be added.
Our God in heaven, father and mother to us;
Hallowed be your name.

As in a lot of these offices, lines from Psalms are used quite a lot. The phrase ‘my help and my God’ comes from Psalms 42 and 43 and has here been made plural because these offices are conceived as corporate -shadowing the Lord’s Prayer which is unremittingly corporate: ‘Our Father … give us … forgive us … as we forgive … lead us … ‘ The aim, of course is to induct us into giving praise and thanks. The phrase following the opening response echoes God’s revelation of God’s name in Exodus 34:6 which is repeated sometimes with slight variations several times (eg. Psalm 86:15 or Psalm 103:8) through the Hebrew scriptures. Because it is a revealed naming of God, it seems right to use it at a point in the prayers where we hallow God’s name.

The following sentence about ‘seeking us out’ is adapted from a prayer from the Church of England’s liturgical resources relating to Lent.

The ‘father and mother to us’ is a phrase borrowed from a liturgy of the Iona community. it helps us to recall that the word ‘Father’ addressed to God is a metaphor -a hallowed one to be sure but still simply a slice of characterising God who overflows our human words’ containment. ‘Mother’ also captures some character of God and echoes and reminds us of some motherly imagery from the Bible which applies to God. In times where there is sensitivity to issues of gender it is good to draw on a wider range of verbal characterisations which remind us that both main human genders are made in the image of God and can therefore point to God.

The ‘kingdom come’ phase starts with

We have been led into deserts of dried-up meaning and conflicting desires. We petition for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, that they may be filled
God fulfil your purpose for us:
Send from heaven and save us.

The petitions in this phase, pick up the themes of wilderness and testing. That first one invites us to pick out the parts of our experience that are frustrating and conflicted and to recognise them as part of the human condition in this passing age. The second sentence is drawn from the beatitudes and turns the phrase into a petition.

The following petitions have the temptations in the wilderness at the back of them and use some words and phrasing that is not simply easy but aims to pick up some contemporary secular usage and fold them into our prayer. Sometimes our prayers become too Christianese and it is important, I think, to keep going to the marketplace and refresh our speaking with God -it may even help others to join in more easily sometimes. The petition about bread and its supply in the wider world is placed last in that series of requests so as to make the bridge to the ‘daily bread’ section more smooth.

The ‘open your hand’ couplet is taken from Psalm 145:16 and seems a fitting way to re-express something of the petition for daily bread. The section is, of course, introduced by lines alluding to Matthew 6:33.

The next section, of course, is about forgiving.

We recognise ourselves in the fractured and frail failures of the stories of God’s people. and we pause to reorient ourselves towards love of God and neighbour.

There is alliteration which draws attention to our plight in terms that echo Jesus’ passion and link them to a solidarity with the wider family of God’s people whose failings are portrayed with brutal honesty in the stories of scripture.

The ‘reorient’ harks back to the waywardness at the beginning of this order of prayer and introduces the reflection on our wrong-doing and wrong-attitudes by using the words of the famous Pauline lines on love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. The idea is that as we read and hear the different characterisations of love, we will recall various things from our own lives that need sorting -and the first step is to acknowledge them.

The ‘refrain’ lines between the meditations on love are from Hosea 13:3. They serve as a counterpoint to the lovely and demanding characterisation of love.

You may note that unlike most other forgiveness sections in the other orders in this collection, there is no explicit part relating to ‘as we forgive’. This is because, in fact, many of the attitudes and postures described in Paul’s words imply forgiving very strongly. That is worth thinking about in itself: that love enacted involves forgiving, in effect.

The words encouraging us to know God’s mercy are drawn from a phrase in Ray Simpson’s Celtic Worship Through the Year.

Make us instruments of your peace:
and let your glory be over all the earth.

That phrase, of course, draws on the famous first line of a prayer attributed to St Francis of Assissi.

…pause to reflect on the coming day…

As with all these pauses at this point, the idea is to consider what is known of the likely events of the day (I sometimes look through my diary and ‘hold’ it before God) and consider what challenges it may hold to our discipleship. It is also worth recalling that there are likely to be things that happen that are unpredictable and we may want to pray into responding well, wisely and winsomely.

The final responses are based, at base, on the temptation in the wilderness.

Tempted to breaden stones:
May your Word give us life.
Tested by intimations of invincibility:
Make us wise in your ways.
Trialled by the seductions of power:
Keep us true to you.

The first line includes a neologism, but I think it actually expresses succinctly the idea of changing something into bread.  The second pair of lines references the temptation at the temple to throw himself down for angels to save and the third pair the vision and offer of ruling the nations.

The temptation around jumping down from the temple peak might, among other things, be things like leaving preparation to the last minute and trusting God to make up for our deficiencies.. So it can act as a warning not to take God for granted in such a way as not to make proper provision to play our part -being wise about what that is- for example.



Benedictus (Song of Zechariah) | Magnificat (Song of Mary) | Nunc Dimittis (Song of Simeon) | Message of the Cross| What we have received | The Song of Christ’s Glory | Song of the Cosmic Christ | You are worthy | Great and Wonderful| Canticle of Solomon| Canticle of Salvation | Canticle of God’s Word | A Song of Ezekiel

‘Canticles’ is a word used to label portions of the Bible which are traditionally used in prayer together in daily offices. These ‘little songs’ (which is what the word roughly means) are often presented as songs or poetry in scripture. Sometimes the term is used of poems or prose pieces which are like the scriptural canticles but not actually found in the Bible or the Apocrypha.

This collection is gathered in this place to make it easier for you to find other canticles if you want to use them instead of ones set within the texts of the offices in the book. Some of those in this section are not found in the daily or seasonal prayer-forms. To get back to where you were, it is probably easiest to use the ‘back’ button on your e-reader.

The following are all in bold to remind us that the default for group-prayer is to say them together. However, they could be said back and forth using alternate lines or each person taking a line or in some other way.

Each of these can be followed by this form of words:

Hallowed be your name Father, 
through the Son, 
in the Holy Spirit: 
As in the beginning; 
so now; and forever. Amen.

That is a version of a traditional doxology:
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to The Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be forever. Amen.

The “Hallowed be…” version is an attempt to present it in a way that preserves the Father-centred focus of the Lord’s prayer. It is not meant in any way to indicate a disagreement with the doctrine of the Trinity.

The Benedictus, “The Song of Zechariah”

“Benedictus” is from the Latin word for ‘blessed’ which is the first word in the canticle. This version has been changed slightly from the contemporary English one most contemporary prayer books would use. It has been change in form so as to directly address God as ‘you’ rather than referring to God less directly as ‘he’ and ‘him’. A couple of lines which are an aside to the Christ Child in the original text in Luke chapter 2, have also been omitted.

Blessed are you, Lord God of Israel;
you have come to your people and set us free.
You have raised up for us a mighty Saviour,
born of the house of your servant David.
Through your holy prophets you promised of old
to save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us;
to show mercy to our forebears
and to remember your holy covenant.
This was the oath you swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship you without fear,
holy and righteous before you, all the days of our life.
In your tender compassion, O God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Based on the English translation of the Benedictus copyright © 1988, by the English Language Liturgical Consultation..

The Magnificat: “The Song of Mary”

“Magnificat” is the first word in the Latin version of this canticle and means ‘magnifies’ or ‘proclaims the greatness of’. This version of the canticle has been changed slightly from the contemporary English one most contemporary prayer books would use. It has been change in form so as to directly address God as ‘you’ rather than as ‘he’ and ‘him’.

My soul proclaims your greatness O Lord;
my spirit rejoices in you O God our Saviour,
You have looked with favour on your lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call us blessed:
Almighty, you have done great things for us,
and holy is your name.
You have mercy on those who fear you
from generation to generation.
You have shown strength with your arm
and scattered the proud in their conceit,
casting down the mighty from their thrones
and lifting up the lowly.
You have filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
You have come to the help of your servant Israel,
remembering your promise of mercy,
the promise made to our forebears,
to Abraham and his children forever.

Based on the English translation of the Magnificat -The Song of Mary, Luke 1:46-55- copyright © 1988, by the English Language Liturgical Consultation.

The Song of Simeon:.”Nunc Dimittis”

“Nunc Dimittis” comes from the first two words in the Latin version of this canticle and means, roughly, ‘Now let leave’. Traditionally it is used in Night prayer and on the Feast of the Presentation in the Temple (“Candlemas”) when Simeon’s prophecy over the infant Christ is recalled.

Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace:
your word has been fulfilled.
My own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people;
A light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.

English translation of the Nunc Dimittis, Luke 2:29-32, copyright © 1988, by the English Language Liturgical Consultation. Used within terms of licence

The Message of the Cross

This is not a traditional canticle, but it has some of the character of one and some may like to use it at various times.

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom,
God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation,
to save those who believe.
For some demand signs and others desire wisdom,
but we proclaim Christ crucified,
a stumbling-block to some and foolishness to others.
But to those who are the called,
Christ is the power of God
and the wisdom of God.
For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom,
and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

                                               From 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

What we have received

What we have received
is not the spirit of the world,
but the Spirit who is from God,
so that we may understand
what God has freely given us.
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,”
except by the Holy Spirit.

                                             1 Corinthians 12:3b

The Song of Christ’s Glory

Though in the form of God,
Christ did not regard equality with God as something to be held.
He emptied himself, taking on the form of a slave.
Jesus was born in human likeness;
and found in human form.
He humbled himself
and was obedient into death
even death on a cross.
Therefore, God highly exalted Christ
giving the name above every name.
So at the name of Jesus
every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

                                             from Philippians 2

A Song of the Cosmic Christ

Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
For in Christ all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things have been created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
And he is the head of the body, the church;
he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,
so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
and through him to reconcile to himself all things,
whether things on earth or things in heaven,
by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

                                              From Colossians 1:16ff

You are Worthy

You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honour and power,
for you made all things,
by your will everything persists
and was created

                                                Revelation 4:11

Great and Wonderful

Great and Wonderful are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty.
Just and true are your ways, O ruler of the nations.
Who shall not revere and praise your name, O Lord?
For you alone are holy.
All nations shall come and worship in your presence:
for your just dealings have been revealed.
To the One who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honour and glory and might, for ever and ever.

                                                       Revelation 15.3,4

Canticle of Solomon

Blessed are you,
O God of our ancestor Israel
for ever and ever.
Yours, O Lord, are the greatness,
the power, the glory,
the victory, and the majesty;
for all that is in the heavens
and on the earth is yours;
yours is the kingdom, O Lord,
and you are exalted as head above all.

                                                 1 Chronicles 29:10-11

A Canticle of Salvation

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of darkness, a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
and increased its joy.
The people have rejoiced before You
as they rejoice at harvest time
For You have shattered their burdensome yoke
and the rod on their shoulders,
the staff of their oppressor,
For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
He will be named Wonderful Counsellor,
Mighty God,
Eternal Father,
Prince of Peace.
The dominion will be vast,
and its prosperity will never end.
He will reign on the throne of David
and over his kingdom,
to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness
from now on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this.

                                                   Excerpted from Isaiah 9.2-7

A Canticle of God’s Word.

O God, Your thoughts are not our thoughts,
nor are our ways your ways, O Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are your ways higher than our ways
and your thoughts than our thoughts.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall your word be that goes out from your mouth;
it shall not return to you empty,
it shall accomplish what you purpose,
and succeed in what you sent it for.
For we shall go out in joy,
and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

                                               see Isaiah 55.8-12

A Song of Ezekiel

You take us from the nations,
you gather us from every land,
You sprinkle clean water upon us,
and wash us from all our uncleannesses,
as from all our idols you cleanse us.
A new heart you give us,
a new spirit you put within us.
You remove from our body the heart of stone
and give a heart of flesh.
we are your people,
and you are our God.

                                        based on Ezekiel 36.24-26,28b

Church of England and canons

There are two strands of canons which are pertinent here. One is about what forms of service are authorised, the other is what a priest is meant to do in terms of daily office.
In short CofE priests are supposed to say Morning and Evening prayer each day (Canon C46) and those services are defined by canons in terms of what they are and should or may contain.
So the issue for the forms of service on this site and in the Book of Our Common Prayer is whether they can be considered as Morning and /or Evening Prayer. This, then, leads us to what constitutes or could constitute those services in canonical terms.
This covers the issue of public worship: for the ordained MP and EP are obliged upon them. At this point then, the form of prayer becomes notable and the Service of the Word may apply.
The authorisation under B1 (which constitutes the forms of service which may be used) extends, by the powers of B2, to the Service of the Word (in Common Worship). Meaning that a Service of the Word as defined in Common Worship may be a form of Morning or Evening Prayer.
The MP & EP forms published on the CofE website are considered thus:
“The orders for Prayer During the Day, Morning and Evening Prayer and Night Prayer comply with the provisions of A Service of the Word, which is authorized pursuant to Canon B 2 of the Canons “
The main thing for our purposes, then, is that the BoCP may “comply with the provisions of A Service of the Word” in such a way as to be considered Morning or Evening Prayer. To do this they must comply with the ‘shape’ of the SotW and with any particulars within that shape.
A Service of the Word (details can be found here):
“…consists almost entirely of notes and directions and allows for considerable local variation and choice within a common structure…”
Overall the aim is to have a liturgy with a preparatory phase, liturgy of the Word, prayers and conclusion. Here are the directions:


  The minister welcomes the people with the Greeting.
  Authorized Prayers of Penitence may be used here or in the Prayers.
  The Venite, Kyries, Gloria, a hymn, song, or a set of responses may be used.
  The Collect is said either here or in the Prayers.
In BoCP mostly a set of responses constitutes this phase. A collect is sometimes commended (and could be used additionally in any case). See below for some further comment on prayers of penitence but note here that in the Lord’s prayer, the petitions to do with forgiveness are late in the prayer which is the pattern for BoCP ordering.

The Liturgy of the Word

  The people and the priest:
  ¶ proclaim and respond to the word of God
In BoCP, there are usually prayers or responses to lead into the readings and some to encourage reflection (ie ‘response’). Because of a sense of continuity, canticles are also encouraged as part of a response. A number of the forms also have scriptural phrases which make explicit a response of faithful following.


  The people and the priest:
  ¶ pray for the Church and the world
The BoCP patterns this section after the Lord’s Prayer and most of the petitionary sections explicitly or implicitly fulfil the gloss.

The Dismissal

  The people and the priest:
  ¶ depart with God’s blessing.
With regard to BoCP a little more needs to be said. Departing with God’s blessing is a vague phrase, but I note that the final section of the Lord’s prayer as played out in these prayers involves us in committing our ways to God and asking God’s help as we go further into the day, this can be construed as going with God’s blessing.
There is a further consideration also. In the Notes section we find the following further instruction:
“Only authorized Prayers of Penitence should be used. They may be omitted except at the Principal Service on Sundays and Principal Holy Days”
So, there is an issue about authorised forms of penitence since most of the BoCP forms do not contain authorized Prayers of Penitence. Even though the penultimate section of the Lord’s prayer deals with forgiving and being forgiven the words used are not drawn from the collection of authorised prayers of penitence.
One thing we might note is that the prayers of penitence may be omitted (except on Sundays’ principal service etc). With regard to BoCP, we might say that prayers of penitence in the CofE sense are being omitted but note that included in the Prayers section are some ‘reflections’ or more general prayers on forgiving and being forgiven -following the pattern of the Lord’s prayer.
It is worth noting, in this connection that often intercessions in a main service, such as Holy Communion, contain phrases to do with forgiveness that are not ‘Prayers of Penitence’. So there is a case for simply not regarding the forgiveness prayers in BoCP as official Prayers of Penitence in this context. That is, not construing these forgiveness prayers in BoCP as Prayers of Penitence so much as part of praying for the church and the world. In some of the BoCP orders of service, in fact, this is made plausible by having responses which are strongly linked to the rest of the prayers. As a further reference point in authorised provision of texts, we might also consider as a precedent the litany which has prayers asking for mercy and forgiveness.  These petitions for God’s mercy etc are not Prayers of Penitence under canonical provision but rather penitential parts of more general prayers. So we may regard the forgiveness prayers in BoCP orders of service.
Recall further that none of the CofE Prayers of Penitence include an explicit section corresponding to the Lord’s prayer’s line on forgiving others, so that the BoCP forgiveness prayers are not covering the same ground as the Prayers of Penitence in official provision since these latter do not generally make explicit an exercise in forgiving others.
Also note: “a Creed or authorized Affirmation of Faith may be omitted except at the principal service on Sundays and Principal Holy Days”. Note that this refers to a principal service so this means that in many circumstances a creed need not be added to BoCP orders of service. But if a BoCP service was being used as a principal service on such a day, it would be easy enough to add one at an appropriate point (probably at the end of the liturgy of the word section and before the prayers section or possibly at or towards the end of the prayers or dismissal section.

Some Canonical quotes for reference

The overarching thing for ordained and licensed lay ministers is Canon B1.
Section 2 of which says:
Every minister shall use only the forms of service authorized by this Canon, except so far as he may exercise the discretion permitted by Canon B 5. It is the minister’s responsibility to have a good understanding of the forms of service used and he shall endeavour to ensure that the worship offered glorifies God and edifies the people.
In addition we may note the discretion to vary orders of service given in Canon B5.1
 The minister who is to conduct the service may in his discretion make and use variations which are not of substantial importance in any form of service authorized by Canon B 1 according to particular circumstances.
In B5. 3 .his we find a principle that

All variations in forms of service and all forms of service used under this Canon shall be reverent and seemly and shall be neither contrary to, nor indicative of any departure from the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter.

With regard to daily prayer,
Canon B11:
2. On all other days the minister of the parish, together with other ministers licensed to serve in the parish, shall make such provision for Morning and Evening Prayer to be said or sung either in the parish church or, after consultation with the parochial church council, elsewhere as may best serve to sustain the corporate spiritual life of the parish and the pattern of life enjoined upon ministers by Canon C 26. Public notice shall be given in the parish, by tolling the bell or other appropriate means, of the time and place where the prayers are to be said or sung.
3. The reading of Morning and Evening Prayer in any parish church as required by this Canon may only be dispensed with in accordance with the provisions of Canon B 14A.

We may note, of course, that this applies to public services in licensed buildings and has no direction for ‘private prayers’.

C 26 Of the manner of life of clerks in Holy Orders

1. Every clerk in Holy Orders is under obligation, not being let by sickness or some other urgent cause, to say daily the Morning and Evening Prayer, either privately or openly; and to celebrate the Holy Communion, or be present thereat, on all Sundays and other principal Feast Days. He is also to be diligent in daily prayer and intercession, in examination of his conscience, and in the study of the Holy Scriptures and such other studies as pertain to his ministerial duties.


These collects are composed or refashioned by Jeremy Clines from older collects and  can be found at his Late Quartet site. There are a number of other collects there, this is a short collection of ones I think might be most helpful for occasional use.
Collects are designed to ‘collect’ together people’s thoughts and prayers at one particular point in time. They have a normal structure of addressing God by recognising some divine quality and on the basis of that quality they then ask God for something, ending with some further recognition of God’s qualities.

O Creator, from who all good things come,
grant to us your humble servants,
that we may see you in all your works.
Inspire us to think on your goodness,
and be guided to become holy stewards
in the creation, which holds together
in Jesus Christ our Lord.


Holy God,
faithful and unchanging:
enlarge our minds with the knowledge
of your world, your cosmos and your truth.
Draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love.
Help us truly serve and worship you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

All-loving God,
in your service we receive perfect freedom.
Show us your purposes for our lives
here on earth that we may obey you
with all our heart and mind and strength,
through Jesus Christ our redeemer.



God of mercy,
in giving us yourself in Jesus the Christ,
as the bread of life,
we live in the hope of life without hunger.
As we serve you and the world you created,
may we who eat, be bread to others,
may we who drink, pour out your love.


Eternal God,
in Jesus, the Christ,
you served, among the crowds,
and you were with the wild animals,
and angels served you.
Equip us to be givers and receives of that same
love and hospitality; in the church, and with
the peoples and creatures of our world.
Help us notice your presence in others
and in our own lives.


God, whose Spirit hovers over
the deep chaos, bringing order;
by your self-giving grace
we can find your love
and desire to see your promises fulfilled
for ourselves, humanity and whole earth.
Help us share your vision for your world
both now and in the new creation.
Through Jesus Christ our rescuer and redeemer.


Go with us, God, into our lives
and our world, guiding our feet,
thoughts, hopes and our actions.
May your continual help equip
us to serve your divine purpose
for our world and our lives,
both now and for ever,
through Jesus Christ our rescuer.


God who angels and animals worship;
you equip us with new hope,
and empower us with your Spirit.
Help us work with you to
protect and restore the broken
and forgotten people and places of our world,
through Jesus Christ our redeemer.


All-powerful God,
you showed us
in rising from death
the promise of eternity.
Encourage us to view
our lives and world within
your all-loving and eternal nature.


God our creator, in Christ
we see your love for our world
is stronger than death or despair.
Gift us with faith to trust your rescue.
Gift us with hope for creation’s liberation.
Gift us with love for our journey towards you.


God, you love the world.
Your rule of peace was revealed
in Jesus, before he suffered and
died by the rule of law.
Help us see how much stronger
your love is than death.
Strengthen us so we may
serve you in this world,
even when love may mean that we suffer.


Creator God,
in Christ you make all things new.
With creation, we long for freedom.
Come and renew our lives and our world,
with your grace and love.
Help us notice such gifts of hope,
so we may point out the signs of
eternal recovery, close at hand.

For more of these collects which have a strong affinity with the Christian concerns for the environment, please go to this site.

Presentation of Christ aka Candlemas

We bring ourselves here and present ourselves to God:
the Lord whom we seek comes to his temple.
The true light that lightens all has come into the world,
In your light may we see light,

leading us from delusion to truth, and into your righteous way.
Lead us, Source of all Being, Father and Mother to us:
From darkness to light and into your gracious will.
Lead us, Christ, our Friend and our Brother;
From death to eternal life and into your infinite joy;
Lead us, Divine Spirit, empowering Life within
for we seek your enabling touch.

Based on a prayer from the Church of South India

As we hear the scriptures read, let us be transformed by the renewing of our minds, to discern the will of God -what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Rom 12:2

Psalm[s] and reading[s]. At the end of the reading[s]:

As we reflect
Holy Spirit, rest upon us.

There may be a time of quiet and/or shared reflection. A framework for reflection, using the pattern of the Lord’s prayer may be used. 

Nourished in what is revealed by the Holy Spirit
May we grow and became strong in faith,
filled with wisdom;
And with the favour of God upon us

Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace:
your word has been fulfilled.
My own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people;
A light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.

    English translation of the Nunc Dimittis, Luke 2:29-32, copyright © 1988, by the English Language Liturgical Consultation. Used within terms of licence

Glory to God in the highest:
and on earth -peace and goodwill.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
…expressions of of praise and thanks …
Our God in heaven, father and mother to us, Light of the nations, Fulfilment of the desires of the ages.
Hallowed be your name

In a world needing revelation to lighten our darkness,
faithful God,
glorify your name.
Among those who await consolation and redemption,
faithful God,
glorify your name.
In the search for meaning and fullness of life,
faithful God,
glorify your name.
Among those who bring good to workers, widows, and among those who show mercy to migrants.
faithful God,
glorify your name.
…other petitions may be made, each ending with
faithful God,
glorify your name.

The company of those who seek your face, O God, shall receive a blessing from you. [Cf Ps.24]
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
Into what will sustain our life in you, lead us.
Pause to recognise our needs
As you provide for us, sustain us and equip us to serve you,
faithful God,
glorify your name.

When the shadows we have cast have hidden the light for others,
Father forgive.
We offer the light of forgiveness for the shadows others have cast on our lives.
Father forgive.
You are the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.
Your word is a lantern to our feet
and a light upon our paths.

Though we walk in the midst of trouble, O God;
you will preserve us.
You will stretch forth your hand against the fury of our enemies;
your right hand will save us.
Make good your purpose for us;
your loving-kindness, O Lord, endures for ever
forsake not the work of your hands.
Make good your purpose for us.
Master, now you dismiss your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation.